12 – Data Dictionary

We are familiar with rules in our lives. They are in our legal system, our games, our family, and of course business. ​According to BABOK, Business rules is a specific, practicable, testable directive that is under the control of the business. It serves as a criterion guiding behavior, shaping judgments, or making decisions

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Definition

Like a journal or index, a data dictionary gives relevant information about databases you are using. It guides you through a vast amount of data and helps you to easily find the ones compatible with your needs. A data dictionary is part of a database management system (DBMS).

A data dictionary documents standard definitions of data elements, their meanings, and allowable values. It also enables a common interpretation of data elements.

It provides all stakeholders with relevant information and a shared understanding of the format.

A data dictionary takes the form of a table with at least 4 columns.

  • Name: It must be unique.

  • Code/Alias: Other name known by stakeholders.

  • Type/value/meaning: Type of data, acceptable values of it.

  • Comment/description: Information about the element in the context

The next columns can contain calculation rules, management rules, length/size of the data, examples, or any information that helps understanding the data.

Data dictionaries area (sometimes referred to as metadata repositories) contain information about owners, any particular security constraints, the date and time data was created at first, and the positioning of data in the database. As organizations adopt data mining and more advanced analytics, a data dictionary may provide the metadata required by more complex scenarios.

Why use a data dictionary?

A data dictionary allows you to keep your data in an orderly manner. This way you can easily access required information.

Using a data dictionary reduces the risk of your data being lost, damaged, or leaked.

A well-organized dictionary brings better control over your data. These will stay relevant and never be redundant, even after numerous uses.

Analysis is simplified through a dictionary. Required data is quickly accessible and make the most specific analysis easier.

As data is more relevant, well organized, and quickly accessible, decision-making will become more successful and comfortable.

How to manage a data dictionary

Using a Data Dictionary in Business Analysis

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On top of the brief description of the method, access to:

  • an explanation of when and how to use it,
  • a practical example,
  • tips and recommendations for use,
  • downloadable checklists and templates,
  • references for further reading,

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